En­voy warns civil war could lead to col­lapse

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Bassem Mroue

BEIRUT — The in­ter­na­tional en­voy seek­ing to end Syria’s civil war warned Sun­day that the fail­ure of the government and the rebels to pur­sue a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion could lead to the “full col­lapse of the Syr­ian state” and threaten the world’s se­cu­rity.

Lakhdar Brahimi, who rep­re­sents the United Na­tions and the Arab League, said that as many as 100,000 peo­ple could be killed in the next year as Syria moves to­ward rule by war­lords.

Brahimi has re­ported lit­tle progress in his mis­sion to push for­ward a peace plan for Syria first pre­sented in June at an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence in Geneva.

The pro­posal calls for an open-ended cease-fire and the for­ma­tion of a tran­si­tional government to run the coun­try un­til new elec­tions can be held and a new con­sti­tu­tion drafted.

But so far, nei­ther the regime of Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad nor the scores of rebels groups fight­ing his forces across the coun­try have shown any in­ter­est in ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The rebels’ po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship has called As­sad’s de­par­ture a pre­req­ui­site for any po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion, and it is un­likely the op­po­si­tion’s Na­tional Coali­tion could even stop rebels on the ground from con­tin­u­ing to fight.

Like­wise, it is doubt­ful that top mem­bers of As­sad’s regime will vol­un­tar­ily give up power.

The Syr­ian government has re­mained of­fi­cially mum on Brahimi’s plan, which he has pushed in the past week in meet­ings with As­sad in Da­m­as­cus, with top Rus­sian of­fi­cials in Moscow and on Sun­day with the head of the Arab League in Cairo.

Speak­ing along­side Na­bil Elaraby on Sun­day, he es­ti­mated that 100,000 peo­ple could be killed if the 21-month con­flict con­tin­ues for an­other year.

Since meet­ing As­sad early last week, Brahimi has given no in­di­ca­tion how his plan was re­ceived. When asked Sun­day if there is any will­ing­ness among the op­po­si­tion to en­ter a po­lit­i­cal process, Brahimi said, “No, there isn’t. This is the prob­lem.”

AB­DUL­LAH AL-YASIN / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rebel fight­ers fire at en­emy po­si­tions dur­ing heavy clashes with government forces in the Sala­hed­dine district of Aleppo.

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